|Photo by Ken Conley|
It was the Bissell and Levi show, with a dash of Colavita. Bissell, because they owned the race, Colavita, because they tried but were outmanned, and Levi, because he's Levi. With the Tour de Georgia gone, Levi's schedule was freed up to drop on be Sea Otter for some laps around the course -- SRAM's sponsorship seemed to help entice him to come (as well as convince him, Lance, and Horner to go to Gila).
Bissell and Colavita made the first major break of six, which got a huge gap on the field. The two Felt U23 riders and Garmin's Holloway tried to contain it, but the break was too big. Apparently Bissell didn't like the makeup of that break, which contained two Colavita riders, so they were soon helping Levi chase it down. You knew that Levi was starting to hit it when the peloton came down the Corkscrew in fragments, slowly regrouping to prepare for another dose the next lap.
Bissell made two riders the next break, as did another Colavita rider, but with the odds 2:1 in Bissell favor, they were ready to let this one play out. Alex Howes of the Felt U23 team tried to bridge the gap, but it was far too much for a solo effort -- unless, perhaps, you're Levi Leipheimer, but Levi didn't seem terribly interested in towing a large group of riders up to the break.